Film examines the health, social and cultural challenges nurses face in America’s diverse communities

PRINCETON, N.J., April 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Who Cares: A Nurse’s Fight for Equity, is a landmark documentary illustrating the life-changing role nurses play in supporting the health and well-being of their communities, far beyond providing care at the bedside. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)—the country’s largest philanthropy focused solely on health—the documentary highlights how important it is that nurses factor patients’ social, cultural and spiritual backgrounds into their care.

Who Cares centers around psychiatric nurse practitioner Whitney Fear, who practices at a federally qualified health center in Fargo, ND. She’s a Lakota nurse who grew up on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. For the past decade, Fear has drawn from her personal background to elevate awareness about the unique needs and experiences of patients in her community. The film aims to capture the dramatic and difficult nature of nursing through the passionate and often dry-humored lens through which nurses like Fear view the profession.

“Nurses have unique insights into the challenges that patients, families and communities face, far beyond their medical conditions,” said Beth Toner, RN, MJ, MSN, senior communications officer at RWJF. “As the COVID pandemic made clear, nursing doesn’t just happen in hospitals and physicians’ offices. Nurses often provide care to communities and populations who have been marginalized and left behind. The people we care for need us to meet them with support wherever they are. Healthcare leaders should consider how to support nurses with the training, resources and systemic structures that allow us to deliver the best possible care to everyone.”

The conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age all affect their health, Fear says. The documentary highlights these complex, yet addressable challenges in the Fargo community. According to Fear, achieving health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. In her role as a nurse, she routinely sees how poverty, race/ethnicity, discrimination, access to health care and education—otherwise known as the social determinants of health—affect longevity, vulnerability to chronic conditions and more.

“The needs in rural, underrepresented communities can feel overwhelming, especially in the face of issues like COVID, but a little compassion goes a long way in caring for people in need,” said Fear. “Nurses can have a positive impact on the health and overall wellness of our patients. That impacts lives for generations.”

The documentary is the latest offering from SHIFT Nursing, an online community for nurses that first launched in 2020 with SHIFT Talk, a podcast ‘for nurses, by nurses’—where nurses ‘get real’ about the challenges they and their patients face. The documentary and podcast are supported by RWJF as part of the foundation’s 50-year commitment to nurses and the leading role they play in achieving health equity for their patients. Directed by Jordan Fein and produced by Alkemy X, the film captures the difference Fear makes with personalized, empathetic and holistic care.

The documentary focuses on different aspects of caring for vulnerable people and the challenges that result when it seems like no one cares about a community. It illustrates how Fear and her colleagues care for people with substance use disorders, provide culturally competent care to Native communities and identify and address sex trafficking.

Since launching during the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in August 2020, SHIFT has given voice to America’s nearly 4 million nurses during a global pandemic that’s taken an incalculable toll on the profession.

Who Cares: A Nurse’s Fight for Health Equity, SHIFT Talk and related resources can be found at Follow conversations about the film on social media at the following hashtags: #WhoCaresNursesCare #WhoCaresAboutHealthEquity #WhatNursesCareAbout #NursesCareAboutHealthEquity.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live or how much money they have. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Contact:       Gisela Rosende, 786-239-8679
                    [email protected]

SOURCE Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


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